Going Bananas

Bananas are native to the Malay Archipelago and Southeast Asia. They have been cultivated in India for 4000 years. In 650 CE Arabs brought the banana to Palestine. Banana cultivation spread to Africa by Arab Muslims. Arab traders gave the banana its name. They noted that bananas growing in Africa and Asia were about the size of a man’s finger, and so called them banan, which means fingertips in Arabic. Banana is the singular.
Arab merchants spread bananas over much of Africa. From Africa, the banana made its way to the Canary Islands. Arabs grew them in Spain and Portugal. In 1502, Portuguese colonists started the first banana plantations in the Caribbean and in Central America from crops planted by the Muslims. Several varieties from the Canary Islands were brought by the Spanish as well, from crops planted by Muslims in Spain. Today one of Central and South America’s major crops is bananas.
Muslim influence in agriculture has given the world much of its best loved food crops.